Tag Archives: grace

Philosophy Class at the Ball Park – Part 2

Sunday Mornings at the Movies.

Welcome back to the Church of Corinth. Corinthians: the Sequel (aka 2 Corinthians: Volume 13 of Heavenly Citizens in Earthly Shoes) is now available as paperback and eBook. Don’t miss the exciting conclusion to the movie. It is heart wrenching as all get-out, let me tell you. Surprise endings are the icing on the cake, and this is some tasty cake!  Simply click here to order.

Oh, but a sequel is always more comprehensible if its parent movie is seen first, and then the prequel afterwards. So you would do well to read 1 Corinthians: Volume 12 first, and then read 2 Corinthians: Volume 13. But not to fret. You can still enjoy the sequel, should you choose to skip her mama. So what are you waiting for? Get yourself to our online bookstore and fetch your own copy! Simply click here to order.

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called [Ephesians 4:1].

Paul insisted on grace, James on works. Are the two mutually exclusive? Let’s continue this analysis now.

Theologically, grace is a free gift, while works demands a paycheck earned. The two are mutually exclusive theologically.

Now consider the matter in practical terms of day-to-day living. If I plant some corn in the ground, what can I expect to happen? Would you believe a corn stalk should grow out of the ground and ears of corn then grow on the corn stalk? If nothing grows, what can we conclude? We conclude that the corn seed is dead. It is sterile.

It is simple practical reasoning, is it not? James—as well as the Hebrews in general—took such an approach. Should someone claim to know the Lord Jesus and be born again, yet they lived like the pagans, James challenged them, “Faith without works is dead.” And you know, he was right on. The fellow who made claims to salvation was all talk and no walk. He begged the question of his salvation.

Paul had a different approach, a Gentile approach, as I phrased it earlier. Paul noted how life comes from God. The corn can only grow if God gives it life. Man can only cooperate with God, as he attempts to live in God’s world. When God blesses man, it is His grace at work, not His obligation to pay man for his works.

In the case of the corn, God wasn’t obligated to make the corn grow. Man planted it, so did God owe him a living? Not so. Fact of the matter is, when the corn did grow, man owed God his gratitude for God’s gift to Him. Every good and perfect gift is from God. It’s not so practical, is it? No, it’s not. It is theoretical, abstract, theological.

Given this hypothetical example of the corn and James’ analysis as contrasted with Paul’s, we note how the two apostles talked apples and oranges. They didn’t speak on the same subject. It only appears like it.

James talked about how to live as a Christian, while Paul talked about how to become a Christian. Paul said, “Saved by grace through faith apart from the works of the Law.” James said, “Faith without works is dead.”

The two apostles weren’t arguing with each other. James talked Hebrew practicality: if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck… Paul talked Gentile abstraction: God’s unfathomable love, His mysterious dealings with man, and life as it exists in eternity.

Even after expounding on this distinction, however, we still miss out on the fullness of Paul’s letters. We began this study by quoting Ephesians 4:1. The verse is significant to our purposes in this study, in that it cuts Paul’s letter in half. I don’t mean in terms of size alone, with the first half comprising 50% and the second half the other 50%.

Oops! Out of time again. Not to worry. A little time with the Lord Jesus now, and tomorrow we will finish this topic. See you then!

To further research this issue, I direct you to my book Numbers: Volume 4 of Heavenly Citizens in Earthly Shoes. To purchase my books please go to:
http://www.amazon.com/Randy-Green/e/B00507WC86

Philosophy Class at the Ball Park – Part 1

Sunday Mornings at the Movies.

Welcome back to the Church of Corinth. Corinthians: the Sequel (aka 2 Corinthians: Volume 13 of Heavenly Citizens in Earthly Shoes) is now available as paperback and eBook. Don’t miss the exciting conclusion to the movie. It is heart wrenching as all get-out, let me tell you. Surprise endings are the icing on the cake, and this is some tasty cake!  Simply click here to order.

Oh, but a sequel is always more comprehensible if its parent movie is seen first, and then the prequel afterwards. So you would do well to read 1 Corinthians: Volume 12 first, and then read 2 Corinthians: Volume 13. But not to fret. You can still enjoy the sequel, should you choose to skip her mama. So what are you waiting for? Get yourself to our online bookstore and fetch your own copy! Simply click here to order.

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called [Ephesians 4:1].

When we watch sports we tend to express ourselves practically. For example, the wide receiver drops an easy pass in the end zone. It should be six points instead of the goose egg.

I’ve yet to hear a fan express his exacerbation with references to the wind velocity, or to geometry and theoretical calculus. The philosophy of football never gets mentioned either! Fans simply blurt out, “Catch the ball, you louse! Why do you think they pay you millions of dollars?” See. Their expression is practical, not theoretical. It is concrete, not abstract.

Inside the college classroom, contrariwise, no student would get by on such utterances. I mean, can you imagine the philosophy professor’s final exam question, which requires essay input from his students to define Sartre’s existential atheism? One student writes, “It stinks!”

Think the student passed the class? Think again! Practicality has its place, like at the ball park. But practicality won’t fly in the philosophy classroom. Theory and abstraction rule inside those walls of academia. But theory and abstraction don’t grow well in the arid soil of football fans.

The Apostle Paul’s New Testament letters differ significantly in form, compared with the letters of other New Testament writers. Paul wrote using a “Gentile style”, while the others wrote using a “Hebrew style”. The Gentiles, more specifically the Greeks, were theoretical and philosophical. The Hebrews were more practical in their approach.

The letter to the Ephesian Christians affords an excellent example to illustrate the “Gentile style”, if I may be permitted to refer to the distinction by this phraseology. The Greeks enjoyed soaring to theoretical heights in outer space. Indeed, they never missed an opportunity to hear the latest ideas making the breakfast club circuit.

The Hebrews preferred to express themselves in practical expressions of day-to-day living, like, “Catch the ball, you pansy!” Considering that the Hebrews provided the world with spiritual leadership rather than sports, this translated into, “Stop sinning!” or, “Pay your tithes!”

Because of the two different approaches—practical vs. theoretical—some folks over the centuries have drawn the conclusion that James and Paul contradicted each other. Paul insisted that Christians are saved by grace through faith apart from works of the Law. James insisted that faith without works is dead. Hmm. Paul insisted on grace, James on works. Mutually exclusive?

In theological terms (i.e., abstract theory) yes, grace and works are mutually exclusive. But once we put the shoe leather to theological doctrine, no, emphatically no!

We will pause here and continue the subject in our next study. In the interim let’s spend time alone with the Lord.

To further research this issue, I direct you to my book Numbers: Volume 4 of Heavenly Citizens in Earthly Shoes. To purchase my books please go to:
http://www.amazon.com/Randy-Green/e/B00507WC86

The 3 L’s – Part 3

Sunday Mornings at the Movies.

Welcome back to the Church of Corinth. Corinthians: the Sequel (aka 2 Corinthians: Volume 13 of Heavenly Citizens in Earthly Shoes) is now available as paperback and eBook. Don’t miss the exciting conclusion to the movie. It is heart wrenching as all get-out, let me tell you. Surprise endings are the icing on the cake, and this is some tasty cake!  Simply click here to order.

Oh, but a sequel is always more comprehensible if its parent movie is seen first, and then the prequel afterwards. So you would do well to read 1 Corinthians: Volume 12 first, and then read 2 Corinthians: Volume 13. But not to fret. You can still enjoy the sequel, should you choose to skip her mama. So what are you waiting for? Get yourself to our online bookstore and fetch your own copy! Simply click here to order.

Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ [Galatians 6:2].

The Law was given to sinners, which created a problem, though the problem was not with the Law. The problem was that sinners are in rebellion against God and don’t want to obey Him. Sinners believe they are good enough to be right with God. This displays itself in legalism. Legalism is the practice of obeying the Law according to sinful man’s interpretation of what this entails.

Since all men are sinners, Old Testament Israelites included, law-abiding Israelites rapidly degenerated into legalistic Israelites. The same applies to Gentiles who attempt to do their own good works, in order to find favor with God.

This is where “the law of Christ” comes in. The Lord gave the Law to Israel. Israel perverted the Law into Legalism. The Lord Jesus interpreted the Law perfectly by returning it to its origins.

The Law was not given as a means to salvation. The Law was given by God to teach sinful man their need for a Savior. In this way sinful men can flee to their Savior and be restored into right relationship with God.

God is love. Any relationship with Him is founded on love because God is love. For sinful man to obey the Law perfectly—which is the only acceptable way to obey it—he has to obey from the heart. He has to want to obey because he recognizes its validity and truly desires from his inmost being to be the person the Law demands he be.

That, dear friends, is the definition of love. Love doesn’t seek its own good, but the good of others. Love doesn’t push self to the front, but elevates others to first place. Love doesn’t take what it wants and keep score. Love gives and overlooks slights to self.

The Law was given to demonstrate to sinful man how far short of the glory of God all of us fall. Sinful man perverted this into Legalism because that is the only way sinners can measure up to the Law. The Lord Jesus returned the Law to its roots by returning it to its rightful foundation, Love.

The 3 L’s: Law, Legalism, Love. The law of Christ is that I love the Lord God with my entire being, and that I love my neighbor as myself. This doesn’t require that I obey the Law of Moses. It does require that I forsake Legalism.

To fulfill the law of Christ I need to spend daily time alone with the Lord Jesus, learning to know Him more and more in order to grow in my love for Him. He is love, so I must get my love from Him. Only after doing so will I have love to give back to Him and to share with my neighbor.

I think I’ll pause now and go to Jesus. He will embrace me in His arms. I love You, Lord.

To further research this issue, I direct you to my book Deuteronomy: Volume 5 of Heavenly Citizens in Earthly Shoes. To purchase my books please go to:
http://www.amazon.com/Randy-Green/e/B00507WC86

The 3 L’s – Part 2

Sunday Mornings at the Movies.

Welcome back to the Church of Corinth. Corinthians: the Sequel (aka 2 Corinthians: Volume 13 of Heavenly Citizens in Earthly Shoes) is now available as paperback and eBook. Don’t miss the exciting conclusion to the movie. It is heart wrenching as all get-out, let me tell you. Surprise endings are the icing on the cake, and this is some tasty cake!  Simply click here to order.

Oh, but a sequel is always more comprehensible if its parent movie is seen first, and then the prequel afterwards. So you would do well to read 1 Corinthians: Volume 12 first, and then read 2 Corinthians: Volume 13. But not to fret. You can still enjoy the sequel, should you choose to skip her mama. So what are you waiting for? Get yourself to our online bookstore and fetch your own copy! Simply click here to order.

Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ [Galatians 6:2].

We concluded our last study with a Jewish lawyer, who tried to embroil Jesus in an ongoing contention between the various rabbinic schools of thought back in the day. This lawyer asked Jesus which commandment in the Law of Moses He thought was the greatest of them all. Jesus responded,

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets [Matthew 22:37-40].

Rule #1 for Bible study teaches, “A text without a context is a pretext.” Lest we find ourselves wading in a pretext, let’s begin by establishing the context of Jesus’ answer to the lawyer.

The lawyer wanted to know which commandment from the Law of Moses was chiefest of all. The context for the lawyer’s question was the Law of Moses. Jesus’ answer was to identify the chiefest commandment, and then to add the second chiefest commandment to the mix. The context for Jesus’ answer was also the Law of Moses.

In providing His answer Jesus quoted from two places in the Law of Moses. The chiefest commandment is to be found in Deuteronomy 6:5. The second chiefest commandment is located in Leviticus 19:18. This means the law espoused by Jesus was the Law of Moses.

Yea, even more, Jesus claimed the entire Law of Moses was fulfilled via obedience to the two chiefest commandments which He identified. Anyone who loved God with his entire being, while simultaneously loving his neighbor as much as he loved himself, in actuality did fully obey the Law of Moses.

Jesus’ position taught that the Law of Moses could not be obeyed outwardly alone. For example, it wouldn’t be sufficient for me to give the tithe and refrain from working on the Sabbath, all the while I resent giving the tithe and can’t wait for the Sabbath to be over so I can make more money. No! I have to give the tithe and obey the Sabbath from my heart first and foremost; then the outward obedience would follow.

This brings us to the “3 L’s”: Law, Legalism, Love. The Law of Moses was the Lord’s legal code for the Promised Land. It was in force during the tenure of the Israelites in the Promised Land during Old Testament times. Being the Word of God, the Law was perfect. There was a problem, to be sure, but the problem wasn’t with the Law. It was with man.

The Israelites, and all men, were and are sinners. Therein lies the problem. The Law was made for sinners. The purpose of the Law was to show sinners their inability to obey God perfectly. In this way sinners can recognize their need for a Savior, One who can bring them back into fellowship with God.

Hold that thought until the next study. We will finish the discussion then. For now let us betake ourselves to the prayer closet for some fellowship with the Lord.

To further research this issue, I direct you to my book Deuteronomy: Volume 5 of Heavenly Citizens in Earthly Shoes. To purchase my books please go to:
http://www.amazon.com/Randy-Green/e/B00507WC86

The 3 L’s – Part 1

Sunday Mornings at the Movies.

Welcome back to the Church of Corinth. Corinthians: the Sequel (aka 2 Corinthians: Volume 13 of Heavenly Citizens in Earthly Shoes) is now available as paperback and eBook. Don’t miss the exciting conclusion to the movie. It is heart wrenching as all get-out, let me tell you. Surprise endings are the icing on the cake, and this is some tasty cake!  Simply click here to order.

Oh, but a sequel is always more comprehensible if its parent movie is seen first, and then the prequel afterwards. So you would do well to read 1 Corinthians: Volume 12 first, and then read 2 Corinthians: Volume 13. But not to fret. You can still enjoy the sequel, should you choose to skip her mama. So what are you waiting for? Get yourself to our online bookstore and fetch your own copy! Simply click here to order.

Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ [Galatians 6:2].

April 15 has come and gone for another year. Americans young and old went through the ordeal of filing their tax returns. Some folks received money back, while others were privileged to dole out additional funds into the leaky cistern known as the federal government.

Then there are those sneaky persons who didn’t file their tax returns at all. Suchlike fellows have broken the law; they’ve committed a crime. They are lawbreakers, criminals. This is true whether or not we agree with the tax code or believe in an income tax. It is the law of the land, thus obligating us to obey it until such time as it is revoked.

In Old Testament Israel the Israelites were governed by the Lord through His legal code, the Law of Moses. Whenever any Israelite failed to do anything the Law required, he became a lawbreaker, a criminal. Whenever he did anything the Law forbade, he became a lawbreaker. Taking into account all the Israelites throughout the entire Old Testament era, we can count on the fingers of one hand how many never were lawbreakers—and we’d still have four fingers and one thumb unused!

Yes, the Old Testament had the Law of Moses. And yes, we today have many laws—federal, state, and local—by which we are governed. In the verse quoted to kick off this study, the Apostle Paul exhorted the Galatian Christians to fulfill the law of Christ. This adds still another “law” to the mix. What is this “law of Christ” anyway?

Ah, that makes for a right fine topic to discuss. Is the “law of Christ” a new legal code which is applicable to the church? Does it replace our federal, state, and local laws. Perhaps it’s the Law of Moses and the Church is obligated to obey it? Maybe it’s just the “moral law” included in the Law of Moses? Oh dear. My head is twirling from all the confusion! What is “the law of Christ”. Would someone please answer the question already?

Let us not be overwhelmed by this topic, dear friends, and drown in the depths of despair. Paul didn’t fabricate some new teaching, when he instructed the Galatian Christians about obedience to the law of Christ. Paul referred to the words of the Lord Jesus, while He walked the earth and taught the Word of God to the Israelites. Let’s check it out and see for ourselves.

The Jewish authorities didn’t support Jesus, and they actively opposed His ministry and teachings. They made it their life’s goal to thwart Him, whenever they deemed it feasible to do so. On one occasion a lawyer tried to trick Jesus into saying something wrong, by introducing a topic which divided the rabbis into contentious cliques.

We will delve into this mysterious topic on the morrow. In the interim enjoy time alone with Jesus.

To further research this issue, I direct you to my book Deuteronomy: Volume 5 of Heavenly Citizens in Earthly Shoes. To purchase my books please go to:
http://www.amazon.com/Randy-Green/e/B00507WC86